Melbourne Victory claimed pole position in the Hyundai A-League on Saturday night, edging past arch rivals Adelaide United 2-1 at Etihad Stadium.
Besart Berisha and Oliver Bozanic scored the goals for Victory, while Marcelo Carrusca struck a late penalty for the visitors, as the reigning champions overtook Brisbane Roar at the summit, and the Big V still have a game in hand.
Another poor display from Adelaide will surely heap more pressure on Reds coach Guillermo Amor, who has yet to taste victory in the A-League.
Adelaide remain bottom of the table with just three points from eight matches.
1-0 Berisha (14') - A familiar pattern saw Kosta Barbarouses release Jason Geria into the box and Victory's right-back was tripped by Jordan Elsey, earning a penalty. Berisha picked out the bottom corner to join Melbourne City's Bruno Fornaroli on six goals this season.
2-0 Bozanic (29') - It seemed almost certain that Gui Finkler would take a direct free-kick from the right channel but instead Bozanic curled his effort around the wall and inside the post.
2-1 Carrusca (87') - After Barbarouses clumsily pushed Craig Goodwin in the box, Carrusca made no mistake from the spot.
Having just got behind, Adelaide United almost equalised in the 16th minute via Goodwin's free-kick. From just outside the box and up against the byline, the left-footer whipped a vicious shot towards the near post but Victory goalkeeper Danny Vukovic reached behind him to claw the ball clear. An incredible save, denying Adelaide at a critical point.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
Victory are unbeaten in 10 matches at Etihad Stadium. They have scored 31 goals in that period.
Adelaide are winless in nine consecutive games - equalling a club record.
The Reds have also lost six straight away games in the A-League.
Victory have won 14 of their last 18 fixtures when Adelaide have come to town.
At the break, Mathieu Delpierre returned to the field with a jacket on and a drink in his hand, with Dylan Murnane taking the Frenchman's place on the pitch. Delpierre's relaxed demeanour indicated he was being rested but reports suggested the veteran defender had a sore ankle and hamstring.
Adelaide are a shadow of their former selves under ex-coach Josep Gombau and it is hard to reconcile their performance in Melbourne with what we have previously expected from the men in red.
The visitors lacked intensity, their ball movement was sluggish and Victory barely had to get out of third gear to claim three points.
But Victory coach Kevin Muscat is unlikely to have been satisfied with the Big V, as his pre-match demands - ruthlessness and control - were lacking at Etihad Stadium.
The hosts allowed Adelaide possession for long periods, while for the second straight game they were held scoreless after half-time and conceded a late goal for a nervous conclusion.
Melbourne Victory: Vukovic (GK), Geria, Delpierre (Murnane 46'), Broxham, Georgievski, Bozanic (Valeri 70'), Mahazi, Finkler, Ben Khalfallah, Barbarouses (Howard 82'), Berisha
Subs: Thomas (GK), Murnane, Howard, Valeri, Makarounas
Adelaide United: Eugene Galekovic (GK), Marrone (Kamau 77'), McGowan, Elsey, Elrich, Isaias, Jeggo (Carrusca 61'), Mells, Goodwin, Cirio, Djite (Sanchez 61')
Subs: Hall (GK), Sanchez, Carrusca, Kamau, Tongyik
Red cards: n/a
Victory: Georgievski, Broxham, Mahazi
Adelaide: Elrich, Marrone, Jeggo, Elsey, Goodwin, Djite, Isaias
Conditions: 17 degrees, clear
Attendance: 23,415 @ Etihad Stadium